In the spring I began to watch as the desert flora began to unfold in the warm sunshine. I drive 70 miles one way to school, so find lots to look at and ponder on as I drive. I wanted to express the upward branching of chamois and other desert plants I was watching, so began this painting.
I chose an acidic green for my underpainting, with dark blue to sketch in the details. Not sure why, it just seemed like a good idea at the time.
Blocking in the layers and deciding on the perspective:
Warming up the foreground, still in "must look just like the chamisa" mode:
Beginning with the branching of the stems was how I handled this, but still not sure how to handle the ground area at the bottom:
As the blossom part began it was very clear that this was not going well. What a drag! After sleeping on the whole mess for a couple of days, (I didn't really sleep ON it, just slept on it..) I decided to paint over it and begin again, but start from the blossoms and move down. Forget the woody part, I was obsessing over it and that's never good.
Here, with a newly painted background and a larger brush, things are looking up. Brighter colors, looser strokes and an, "It was ruined so what do I have to lose?" attitude helped me stop the detail frenzy. For stems I just took my palette knife and scratched them into the soft paint. Presto, much better idea.
Hmm, yellow puffy bits all the way down... like too much candy! Gotta push that back a bit.
A branch of Brigham Tea across the front does the trick. In this pic you can see the stem work better. While not a masterpiece, I learned a ton from this month-long fight.